For the most part, I was raised by women. Some of the earliest memories I have were made sitting at the kitchen table breaking green beans for canning or shucking corn. We don’t can anymore, and for the last several years, we’ve tried just about every brand of green bean that exists. They’re all just not good. We’ve been too spoiled.
I have vivid recollections of family members being very concerned about the tomatoes in the garden. They would check them daily, pining for the day that they could be put onto a sandwich. Now that the garden is no more, my family doesn’t even buy tomatoes any longer — they’re just not good enough.
Supermarkets are a wonderful thing. They make food available for folks that, otherwise, likely wouldn’t eat anything except fast food. However, there’s just no replacing something that is grown on a small scale, something that the grower is invested in.
Farmer’s markets really are just as good as it gets.
If you’ve got a question about a crop or a product, the person who made it is standing right in front of you. You can ask them anything you heart desires, and they’ll likely have an answer. Want to know what kind of pesticide was used and in what volume? They can tell you. Curious as to what’s in season or what will be in season soon? There’s an expert right in front of you.
Most of the time, you can even get some great recipes for whatever produce you get. For someone like me who is pretty incompetent in the kitchen, that’s a resource that I don’t take for granted.
Even beyond information, there’s just something good about knowing where something was made or grown. You can even develop a friendship with market participants. You’ll grow closer every time you sit down for a meal.
Not only are you able to know exactly what you’re buying, you’re also putting money into the pockets of local merchants and farmers. Those that sell at the market are your neighbors and your friends. You’re not giving your money to some faceless corporation that couldn’t care less if you liked their red onions or not as long as you buy them. By putting money into the pockets of local farmers, you’re not only bettering their life, but your life as well. When local merchants have more money, that means they spend more money locally. This results in a boost to the local economy, making life better for everyone.
Bringing your family to the market can also provide a great educational experience. Your children can learn where their food comes from; they can meet those that provide it. They won’t have to associate broccoli with the vegetable aisle at the supermarket. Instead, they can associate with a name, a face, a personality.
Of course, the consumers don’t get all the benefit. The growers really enjoy talking about their products; they’re proud of what they’ve grown or produced. I once worked in a small rural town in Kentucky with a very small farmer’s market — think 1-2 vendors. There was an older gentleman there that I had to stop and talk to. He wore a big straw hat and always had the biggest grin on his face. He waved at every car that passed by. He told me that his favorite thing about the market was being able to explain all the work that went into his products to customers.
Our local farmer’s market has just about everything you could ask for. Of all the counties I have worked in, Meade County definitely has the best market. Part savvy shopping, part educational experience, all fun. If you haven’t been, you really are missing something special. Get the most up-to-date information about the market on their Facebook page, Meade County Farmers Market.